Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: October ::
Isabella's Redemption
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1742  Thursday, 13 October 2005

[1] 	From: 	Frank Whigham <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
	Date: 	Wednesday, 12 Oct 2005 09:11:09 -0500
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1733 Isabella's Redemption

[2] 	From: 	Edmund Taft <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
	Date: 	Wednesday, 12 Oct 2005 12:16:46 -0400
	Subj: 	Isabella's Redemption


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Frank Whigham <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date: 		Wednesday, 12 Oct 2005 09:11:09 -0500
Subject: 16.1733 Isabella's Redemption
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1733 Isabella's Redemption

 >While the King's Man may have had reservations about the tactics
 >employed by the "Duke of dark corners," his lord and master James
 >had no such qualms. A contemporary (Anthony Weldon) cites the
 >King's private motto as: "QUI NESCIT DISSIMULARE, NESCIT
 >REGNARE." ("He who knows not how to dissimulate knows not
 >how to reign.")

It's certainly true that James was an extremely nosy beggar, and 
unapologetic about it. His creepy inquiries into wedding-night 
performance are notorious (including his daughter's), as John 
Chamberlain tells us. MFM criticism has deployed his secretive voyeurism 
and crowd-hatred in a variety of ways (see Ernest Schanzer's Problem 
Plays, Josephine Bennett's MFM as Royal Entertainment, and David 
Stevenson's The Achievement of MFM). Perhaps he energized (though he 
certainly did not trigger) a set of "disguised ruler" plays that have 
received a certain amount of critical attention. See, for a local set, 
Middleton's Phoenix (1603-4), John Day's Law Tricks (1604) and The Isle 
of Gulls (1606), Marston's The Fawn (1604), Dekker and Webster's 
Westward Ho! (1604), Dekker's Honest Whore II (1604-5), the anonymous 
London Prodigal (1604), and Edward Sharpham's The Fleire (1606).

The motto is apt, but tricky. Weldon was a notorious James-hater, often 
regarded as untrustworthy by modern historians (though much of what he 
says seems to me likely enough), and he uses the motto as the title-page 
epigraph to his sulphurous Court and Character of King James (printed 
1650). So far as I can see (not rereading all of Weldon), the author 
meant to describe James (quite critically), not to impute it to him as 
his own acknowledged (if private) motto.

The motto also precedes James. As it happens, my co-editor and I have 
had to annotate it for our Puttenham edition (where it appears). Here's 
part of what we say in the note:

     Although the expression Qui nescit dissimulare, nescit regnare 
("Who does not know how to dissimulate, does not know how to rule") is 
consistent with sentiments expressed in the works of Seneca, it does not 
occur there, nor can it be found in any database of classical 
literature. . . . most modern collections of proverbs and sayings 
attribute it to the French king Louis XI (b. 1423, ruled 1461-83), 
although the saying has also been identified as a medieval proverb . . . 
starting in the Renaissance, it seems to have been assigned to Louis XI 
pretty consistently . . . Thus, Gilles Corrozet attributes it to him, 
citing it in French as "Qui ne s

 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.